Lewiston native Katie Lachapelle, center, watches from behind the bench during a United States U22 hockey game against Canada in Lake Placid, New York, in August 2019. USA won 4-2. Nancie Battaglia/USA Hockey

Katie Lachapelle has been ready to coach the best Under-18 girls hockey players in the United States for two years.

The Lewiston native and 2015 Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame inductee will finally have the chance to behind the bench as head coach of Team USA for the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Women’s World Under-18 Championships. She was officially announced as the team’s coach late last month, again, after originally being picked to lead the squad in May 2020.

The 2022 U18 championship tournament takes place June 6-13 in Madison and Middleton, Wisconsin.

“I know the (players) are overjoyed with being able to suit up and actually have (the tournament) happening,” Lachapelle said. “We don’t care what the (coronavirus) protocols, the rules, whatever it may be, we will do it. We are ready to play.”

Lachapelle was a member of Lewiston High School’s 1995 boys hockey state championship team and then played four years for the women’s team at Providence College before embarking on a coaching career that includes stints as an assistant at Union College, Niagra University, Ohio State, Boston University, and, finally College of the Holy Cross.

She recently finished her third season as head coach of the women’s hockey team at Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. She already has an extensive history of coaching USA Hockey teams. She served as a U18 assistant coach from 2013-17, when the United States won three consecutive gold medals from 2015-17 and the silver medal in 2014 at the U18 World Championships. She also was an assistant with the U22 team in 2018 and 2019 for a series of games against Canada.


This year’s World Under-18 tournament nearly didn’t happen for a second straight year. It was canceled in 2021 because of COVID-19. The 2022 tournament was originally slated for January in Sweden, but it was called off by hockey’s world governing body on Christmas Eve in 2021, two weeks before the puck was supposed to drop, because of the surge of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

There was an uproar from players and supporters of women’s hockey who questioned why the tournament was canceled when the IIHF was allowing the men’s World Junior Championships to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, beginning Dec. 26. (The World Juniors were eventually shut down, on Dec. 29, because of COVID-19 cases and rescheduled for August in Edmonton.)

USA Hockey urged the IIHF to reconsider the cancellation, and on Dec. 28 the IIHF announced that the Women’s World Under-18 Championships were instead postponed.

The United States was awarded the tournament in March after Sweden gave up its hosting rights.

Lachapelle, who was going to coach the U.S. team in January, said the players were frustrated by the IIHF cancellation and glad USA Hockey stepped in.

“It was really, really hard on these young women who have given their all, and to see the men were playing and they weren’t allowing us to play, it didn’t feel right,” Lachapelle said. “We are very thankful for the IIHF, and especially USA Hockey for pushing to have the women’s (tournament) reinstated.


“If it wasn’t for the push, I don’t know if it would have happened.”

Lachapelle said she thinks she understands why IIHF gave the men’s World Juniors a shot at playing in a modified bubble in Edmonton and Red Deer.

“The World Junior is a different animal in itself because it makes so much money and (the tournament) has the TV rights,” Lachapelle said. “I don’t know enough about everything to know how all that works, why that one has to go on and why others maybe don’t. I think it has to do with a little bit of money — not in a negative way. I think if that tournament helps fund a lot of other tournaments and if that tournament doesn’t go, it also hurts other tournaments.”


Lachapelle said the extra five months allow her and her coaching staff to have more Zoom meetings with the players as they prepare for the tournament and to defend the United States’ 2020 gold medal.

Lachapelle said they are keeping the original roster that was named in October. There are no Mainers on the roster — which includes players born from 2004 to 2006 — but there’s an area connection. Defender Laney Potter’s brother, Joey Potter, played for the Twin City Thunder in 2020-21.


The extra time also has its challenges.

“When it’s in January, everybody is playing, everybody is working out and is in a middle of a hockey season,” Lachapelle said. “Now, it’s in June, some of these young women may be playing other sports at school, especially the (players) at prep school who usually have to play three sports. We already touched base and we have to go about it a little bit differently since it’s in June. We (the  coaches) are talking about when we do we want them to start ramping up and getting back on the ice because, after a long season, you want them to take some time off.”

Katie Lachapelle of Lewiston will coach Team USA at the Women’s World Under-18 Championships in Wisconsin in June. Nancie Battaglia/USA Hockey photo

The United States and Canada are the only two teams that have won gold in the tournament since it began in 2008. The U.S. has claimed eight golds and Canada has five. Kasey Boucher, another Lewiston native, won gold with Team USA in 2008.

Lachapelle is at the American Hockey Coaches Association Convention this week in Naples, Florida, as part of her job at Holy Cross. Next week her focus turns turns solely to the U18 team, since a college recruiting dead period begins Wednesday.

One benefit of playing in June is that the Women’s U18 championships will be the only international hockey tournament being played that week.

Lachelle said the tournament being in an Olympic year helps, she hopes, get more people interested in the U18 tournament.

“I know the U.S. Olympic (team) athletes, one of their big pieces is, ‘Hey, we got a lot of momentum. Yeah, we didn’t win (gold), and that’s the standard, right?,'” Lachapelle said. “You are supposed to win, USA and Canada, that’s the standard, but I do know from their standpoint is: ‘How do we keep pushing for the younger generation, striking while the iron is hot? Women’s hockey is continually growing as a popular sport, and how can we keep the momentum going right now?'”

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